Despite being down for much of the first three quarters, Chicago finished strong. The Bulls outscored the Heat 34-20 in the fourth quarter and got a combined 47 points from their starting frontcourt. It was business as usual for Nikola Vucevic with a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Daniel Theis had his best game in a Bulls jersey to date. He made an impact in all aspects of the game, notching 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and a crucial block on Bam Adebayo late in the game. The performance by Chicago’s big men was enough to beat a Miami team that got 33 points from Jimmy Butler and 23 points from Adebayo.
Unlike the game on Saturday, Chicago played much better in the first. They took advantage of Miami’s small lineup by feeding Vucevic, who scored eight points in the quarter. Butler looked a lot more aggressive offensively, dropping 10 points of his own. He took advantage of the Bulls’ three-big lineup by isolating his man and generating shots at the rim. Thanks to a 9-1 run to end the quarter, the Heat had the lead at 26-20.
Chicago went down nine early in the second quarter but continued to battle and even stormed back to tie the game up at 43. In fact, the Bulls even took the lead with less than a minute to go in the second thanks to a basket from Vooch. But a Butler layup with 40 seconds left was enough to give Miami a 53-52 lead at the break.
The third quarter followed the same flow as the second, with the Heat building up a lead only for Chicago to come right back. Miami opened the second half with a mini spurt, prompting a timeout from Billy Donovan, who also was given a technical right after to give the Heat a six-point lead. The Bulls then responded with a run of their own to retake the lead. The two teams continued to go back and forth before another strong finish by Miami gave them the lead at the end of the quarter. Max Strus scored five points in a span of 20 seconds before a Markkanen buzzer-beating floater trimmed Miami’s lead to six.
The Bulls found themselves down seven with eight minutes to go in the fourth. But once again they didn’t deter and worked themselves back into it. They went on a 9-2 run to tie the game on the back of Coby White’s 3-point shooting and took a 97-95 lead a couple of minutes later thanks to a jumper by Vucevic. Chicago didn’t trail again the rest of the game. Markkanen hit a big 3-pointer in the corner and Theis scored on a tip-in to help keep the Bulls’ lead at four heading into the final minute of regulation.
Chicago caught a huge break when Garrett Temple lost the ball at the half-court line with 40 seconds left, only to see Butler blow a wide-open layup on the other end. White was then fouled and knocked down a free throw to give Chicago a five-point lead with 31 seconds left. Needing a bucket and in a hurry, Miami set up Trevor Ariza for a 3-point shot coming out of a timeout. His attempt bounced out and was grabbed by Patrick Williams, who also went 1-of-2 from the line. Butler missed a 3-pointer and White iced the game at the charity stripe.
Overall, Chicago’s offense played relatively well in another game without Zach LaVine (and Troy Brown Jr.). The Bulls shot 53.2 percent from the field and moved the basketball well, notching 33 assists on 41 makes. The Bulls still had trouble protecting the ball, however, as they committed 18 turnovers that turned into 20 points on the other end. Chicago was able to avoid setting an NBA record in terms of consecutive games with under 20 free throws by going 17-of-22 from the line.
In addition to Vucevic and Theis putting up big games, White wound up with 17 points thanks to a late surge. The efficiency wasn’t there as he shot 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3-point land, but both those triples came when the Bulls needed them in the fourth. Temple had 10 points, including a huge trey that tied the game at 95, and he was a team-best plus-14. Patrick Williams started out the game great with five quick points in the first, but he only finished the game with eight points, two rebonds and two steals. He also played only 22 minutes, the least out of any Chicago starter.
The bench was a big help in this one, outscoring Miami’s reserves 28-17. While Miami got Goran Dragic back in this game, Tyler Herro, Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Nunn and Victor Oladipo were all out, and Duncan Robinson left the game due to an illness after going just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. This left the Heat rather shorthanded, even with Butler and Bam in the lineup. Dragic had a rough game in his return, missing all three of his 3-pointers as the Heat shot a woeful 7-of-36 from deep.
Thaddeus Young nearly recorded a triple-double with 10 points, eight assists, and nine rebounds. Tomas Satoransky once again had a tough scoring night against the Heat with only six points, but he still made his presence felt. He grabbed four rebounds, with two of them coming on the offensive end, while also finding guys for open shots with six assists. He had a huge block on Gabe Vincent too:
Tomas Satoransky races back for the big time DENIAL!— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2021
Watch on NBA League Pass pic.twitter.com/p9S7jV7LHX
Markkanen struggled from 3, going 2-of-7, but he still scored 12 and hit a huge shot from downtown when the Bulls needed it the most as Billy Donovan went with his three-big lineup down the stretch:
The MVP was Theis, though. Theis just continues to give the Bulls solid minutes every game and has made some highlight plays as well, including this one-handed hook shot midway through the second:
This could be the greatest play we've seen pic.twitter.com/YtQVVLqjKp— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) April 27, 2021
This was a gigantic victory by Chicago. It came on the road and against a playoff team in the Heat. There were times where it looked like Miami may pull away, but the Bulls kept hanging in there. They had one late flurry to take the lead and made plays when they needed to hang on for the win.
With only 11 games to go, there isn’t a lot of margin for error for the Bulls. They are still in the hunt for the final play-in spot, with the gap between them and the Wizards now only one game again after Washington’s overtime loss to the Spurs. The Raptors kept pace with a win over the Cavaliers.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier with the next six games all coming against Eastern Conference playoff teams. The next game is against Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks, who just had their nine-game winning streak snapped by the Phoenix Suns.